I am a Farmer!

“It’s true. The fantastic present and future of solar air heating systems rests on the shoulders of founding fathers like yourself and many other DIY solar enthusiasts, who spent decades diligently and arduously working away: experimenting, bravely designing, building, tearing down and then building again and again… You have made the next generations very proud.” –Meredith Williams

I recently wrote this in a comment thread on a popular solar air heater YouTube video.

And I meant it.

Meredith Builds and Installs solo, her own solar air heater! Operated by Okapi Fan Control Systems. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

(And she is currently working on building Three more, using a new design!)

 

I think there have been too many people who have scoffed at emerging technologies, alternative methods and new ideas for as long as humankind has existed. It takes a steady mind, but also a mind full of fire and spice, to pursue an idea when everyone around them is emitting negative thoughts and comments.

I don’t think we give the founding fathers (and mothers) of solar air heating enough credit. I can truly say that, thanks to them, Greenhill EnviroTechnologies was born.

Without the hundreds of YouTube videos out there, solar forum posts and threads, and the odd article in various publications, each showing his or her version of a solar heating device (mostly “his”, actually: there are only a few females talking about solar air heaters out there and I am one of them,) no progress could ever have been made.

 

Scientific breakthroughs rarely come from a single spark of insight, solely generated from within one person.

Scientific breakthroughs grow forth from internal ruminations over thousands of observations of the external world.

It takes a community to work together, whether they even realize they are working together at the time, for science to actually advance. Techniques, hypotheses, theories and ideas all need to be tested, retested, tried and trialed by many before they can ever become accepted by the masses as true, reasonable and incredibly useful. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we all blindly work together.

The solar air heating movement had its beginnings over four decades ago, but we all know that we and the rest of the Earth have been soaking up the sun, its heat and energy since the beginnings of time. So, really, it’s nothing new.

Fire in the sky! Okapi fan control systems for solar air heaters. Solar Furnaces. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

It shouldn’t be too shocking to learn that you can heat your home on frigid, sunny days just by using the power of the sun and some awesome technology.

Thank goodness for communities, both in the real world and now in the virtual world of the internet. It has allowed for tremendously widespread collaboration of ideas and support.

 Most importantly, thank goodness for the support!

When you are one person in a small community trying to do something innovative, combating the naysayers, closed-minded neighbors, name-calling and teasing, can be quite overwhelming. I am certain, that “lack of support” has killed many revolutionary ideas, over and over again, throughout history.

It takes a brave soul to move forward in fantastic new ways whilst being weighed down by skeptics and minds fearful of change.

I am extremely grateful I worked hard to adopt an open-mind and fearlessness in the early days of Julian’s research into solar air heaters.

“Sure,”  I thought, “building one for yourself is fine. It’s a cute hobby!”

I’ll admit I had many thoughts over the past few years that it should not be anything more than a hobby. I’ll admit I had thoughts of:

“What is this guy doing spending all his time working on these crazy solar heaters, circuit-boards, fans, programming and mad-scientist contraptions?”

“Why can’t he just go out and get a normal job like everyone else?!”

Julian Jameson, creator of Okapi Systems. Software and hardware Engineer, Mad Scientist, Brave, Innovative Soul. CEO of  Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Julian Jameson, creator of Okapi Systems. Software & Hardware Engineer, Mad Scientist, Brave, Innovative Soul. CEO of Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Julian is now working on finishing up the Android Mobile Okapi App.

Yes, the MS Windows version of the Okapi Viewer App is completed and already available, and so is the Solar Heater Output Calculator App! And they are awesome!

Okapi Viewer App. Solar Air Heater Analysis program. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

And soon, solar heat farmers will be able to walk around holding their touch-screen devices and assessing their solar heat harvests! They can and will assess from looking at the instant data on their screen how much they are harvesting, how efficient their solar heat harvesters are, how much they are not only helping themselves, but also helping others.

Eventually, this readily available, scientific tech-assessment tool will lead to more efficient solar air heaters, greater yields and many more solar heat harvesters being built and installed all around the chilly world.

Eager View... What does the future hold? Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Julian has done good work for us all and he is not stopping there.

This whole experience reminded me of my background, my upbringing, my own parents. They were private-school and Ivy-league University-educated, free-thinkers from the USA. They came from families with doctors, lawyers, teachers and business-owners. Then, they decided they wanted to “live off the land” and have a farm, in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Oh, the naysaying was tremendous! The condemnation was horrific! The skeptics and critics were relentless!

“How can you waste your education and become a lowly farmer? You could have an amazing job in the city, you could teach, you could be a lawyer, you could be a doctor, you could work on Wall Street!”

“What kind of terrible childhood are you going to be giving to your kids? You are crazy!

And…

“Who do you think you are, you damn Yankees! You dirty Americans! You come here with your fancy degrees and decide you can farm our land!”

“You do not belong here!”

But I had special parents. They stood up tall and proclaimed:

“In fact, to farm, it takes a tremendous breadth of knowledge and no farmer should ever be considered ‘lowly’!”

They went back to the land and thank goodness they did! My childhood rocked! I learned and practised animal husbandry from the beginning. I knew general anatomy (inside and out) of cows, cats and chickens, how the internal organs looked and worked, how reproduction occurred, all by the time I started school. I could rope and catch a calf solo and fend off the charging mother cow by the time I hit double digits. I learned to count as a toddler by bringing in pieces of wood, one at a time, to feed the fire that kept our farmhouse warm and cosy.

Our farming Neighborhood. Wind farming, solar heat farming, strawberries, chickens, cattle, horses, pigs, goats... Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Most importantly, I learned that being different, being of American background (even though I was born in Canada,) a weird foreigner among others in our Canadian community who had been here for many generations, was not easy. In fact, I grew up surrounded by naysaying, teasing, rejection and relentless skepticism. It only taught me to work harder, to pursue my own ideas and thoughts, to carve my own paths. It taught me to persevere while swimming through a murky sea of shunning, judgement, negativity and pain.

When anyone manages to swim through such a treacherous sea in life, it often can lead to an existence of immense fulfillment.

Now, all those lessons learned from my parents, learned through my tough, hardworking farmkid childhood, my teenage years of extreme academia and sports and a young adulthood full of medical struggles, pain and suffering, have been very useful! They gave me the courage to support and work with Julian as he developed these innovative fan control systems. These lessons-learned gave me the strength to create our clean-tech start-up for a niche, but growing market, from scratch. These lessons-learned have led to a great first year of gaining internet awareness, customer confidence and contacts around the globe, all interested in the present and future technologies of solar air heating.

It has been trying, sometimes terrifying, but very worth it.

We really have a business, now: a fledgling about to soar!

The Eagle that watches over Julian's office. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

And I am feeling very tired after another full day’s work. Yet, it is all worth it. It makes me feel rooted to our soil, connected to my ancestors: I am giving honor to them by trying and working my hardest towards something good for humanity. I also feel connected to the future: I will be leaving behind something of value.

How Green are your Footprints? Giving back to the community, giving back to the Earth. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

I am giving back to the community every day and my existence finally feels justified.

Farming can come in many forms, and I feel I have grown up to carry on the family farm, in essence. I bring in a huge solar heat harvest on every cold, sunny day; and I work directly with other farmers, to encourage, help and support them in bringing in their harvests, too.

Solar heat farming is a nice occupation: bright, cheery, warming and never-ending.

I am very proud to call myself a farmer.

DIYwoman. A solar heat farmer. Drawing by Meredith Williams, MDW.

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Major Tech-Communication Innovation for Solar Air Heaters

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Sept.1, 2014, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Major Tech-Communication Innovation for Solar Air Heaters

Okapi Bluetooth: the Solar Air Heater Control System. Kickstarter Project, 2014. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Okapi Systems are intelligent, variable speed fan control systems for solar air heaters, created and manufactured by Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Through quite a visually enticing Kickstarter Project, this creative, clean-tech company has just released their new Okapi model upgrade: “Okapi Bluetooth: the Solar Air Heater Control System”.

You can learn more about this exciting and fun innovation here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2107309041/okapi-bluetooth-the-solar-air-heater-control-syste

The Okapi Fan Control System product line is positively a “disruptive innovation” for the world of solar space-heating. The very first of its kind, Okapi is able to pump solar heated air out near floor level, with multiple temperature sensors, using programmed microcontroller units that intelligently and autonomously control variable-speed fans. They are patent-pending in North America.

“Okapi Bluetooth” now enables the user to see Inlet, Outlet, Ambient Temperatures and Fan Speeds via any Android device through their new “Okapi Manager App”. A Bluetooth-enabled PC or Mac can be used to log this data over minutes, hours, days or weeks, then graph and analyse it.

Okapi Bluetooth: the solar air heater fan control system. Kickstarter Project. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Finally, DIY enthusiasts can truly see and measure how well their solar air heaters are performing!

“Okapi Bluetooth” is Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.’s second Kickstarter Project and it already looks like it will be a successful one, like their first from 2013.

Highly active on many social media sites, Greenhill EnviroTechnologies is a fun company to follow, sharing visually empowering images and ideas, and always keeping you wondering: what are they working on next?

Finally, the science of solar heating is catching up with the technology of the 21st Century and

“Okapi Bluetooth” is leading the race by miles.

Okapi 2 Bluetooth: the solar air heater control system. Kickstarter Project. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

“Okapi Bluetooth” will definitely satisfy any DIY solar air heater builder’s constant nagging questions: “How hot is the air coming out now?” “How is this heater performing compared to that other one I built?” “How can I prove to my friends this thing really works?”

Visit their Kickstarter Project page today:

Maximize your solar heat harvest,

Minimize your heating bills

…and of course,

Make the Next Generation Proud!

Green Rainbow of Okapi Bluetooth Circuit Boards, ready for production. Kickstarter Project. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Green Rainbow of Okapi Bluetooth Circuit Boards, Ready for Production.

Contact Details:

Meredith Williams, President

info@greenhillenvirotechnologies.com

902-301-1196

www.greenhillenvirotechnologies.com

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2107309041/okapi-bluetooth-the-solar-air-heater-control-syste

What an adventure!

kettle

Our plug-in electric kettle broke yesterday. I am trying not to be devastated. I so loved the warm blue glow of its light as it boiled my water for an evening cup of tea. It has been a good friend to me. It still works, sort of. The lid-hatch-thingy just won’t close anymore, so the internal switch to turn it off once the water is boiling doesn’t get triggered and it just Keeps On Boiling… But, if I weigh it down with a towel, it stays closed and turns off when it is supposed to. I am not sure if that is safe.  I find myself wondering if I could tape it shut. Maybe, but I can’t trust it to leave it to itself anymore. It is no longer autonomous. That might be dangerous. We may have to open our purse-strings and get a new kettle.

This has affected me in a strange way. Before I would be angry and think “What bunch of crappy plastic and electronics.” Now, through this adventure we are on, bringing our own bunch of electronics to market, I think differently. I feel sadness for the maker of this kettle. I feel worry for them. I feel compassion. Someone worked very hard to get that beautiful kettle into my kitchen.

Last week, we met with an “Industrial Research Adviser” from the Industrial Research Assistance Program of the National Research Council of Canada.  He has been the most helpful person we have met so far. We have learned everything about the process of bringing an electronics product into the public eye. Through the National Research Council’s help, we have made very special contacts with expert electronics Engineers, local fabrication and machining businesses, marketing strategies, funding routes and programs.

I never realized that everyday products we all use and rely upon required so much work to get onto that store shelf and into our hands. Only a small part of the process is about marketing. Most of the hard work, long hours and financial investment required for something very simple, like a kettle, for example requires Standards Testings that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Any product with a patent behind it has tens of thousands of dollars invested in it. Defending a patent against someone else violating it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at least. Working with lawyers to simply establish a business name and number, go incorporated and register costs thousands. Then don’t forget to add on the product disclaimer warnings, terms and conditions, and insurance costs…

I now look at all the great products swimming around me and I am in awe. We all take it for granted, particularly the years of work that people spend creating, testing and refining prototypes.

I will no longer ask “why on earth does this thing cost so much? It’s just a bunch of plastic and electronics”. The prices are all about the “overhead costs”.

We are living the dream of bringing a bunch of plastic, electronics and wires into the public eye. Years of hard research and development, a year working with a patent lawyer, and just a few months working further with lawyers, engineers, government representatives, marketing professionals, and banks: day after day of long, busy days.

I feel ashamed of the way I used to take for granted all the wonderful little helper gadgets and things that make my home a home.

Not anymore. I tip my hat to anyone who has gotten anything from home-made to professional grade. Well-done world!

…we still need a new kettle, though.